Fifteen Years After Dallas, (Dis)Honorable Mention: Guam and the Hope and Healing Hoax

This would have been Part Eight, except for one little loophole: 

Guam/the Archdiocese of Agaña is NOT TECHNICALLY a member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Archdiocese of Agaña is a member of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (CE-PAC).

Guam’s disgraced Archbishop Anthony Apuron (pictured above with the pope) used to attend USCCB meetings and the like, but I think he used the “buffet” approach when it came to what window-dressing reforms he would adopt and what he wouldn’t.

Now that the Archdiocese of Agaña is headed by Archbishop Michael Byrnes out of Detroit, I think that the bonds to the USCCB are going to become much stronger. 

Onto my story:

The saga of Archbishop Anthony Apuron is long and horrific.

Catholics began protesting his financial mismanagement and mobster tactics, including improper financial dealings with a Catholic sect called the Neo-Catechumenal Way.



Then, multiple alleged child victims—who risked their reputations, their families’ well-being, and their livelihoods by coming forward and saying that Apuron abused them—came forward. They all said that Apuron sexually abused them.

Apuron is now subject of a Vatican tribunal that will do little more than, I believe, give him a slap on the wrist and allow him to live in hiding on the mainland (with a monthly retirement check) for the rest of his life.

Last year, Guam lawmakers passed a civil window that allows child sex abuse victims to use the civil courts to get accountability. Other victims came forward and exposed a web of child sex abuse and cover-up going back decades. This is the same law that that victims in New York are protesting and begging to have.


New York Victims Protesting for a Civil Window

THEN … in the course of dozens and dozens of lawsuits, documents were exposed showing that the Vatican had been investigating Apuron for abuse as far back as 2008. And, of course, kept it secret.

But none of this is why I am including Guam in my series.

The Hope and Healing Hoax

In April, a mainlander church lawyer came to Archbishop Michael Byrnes and told him he had a plan. A plan get the sex abuse cases out of the courts. They’d disguise it as “Hope and Healing.” They’d focus messaging on rebuilding spiritual bonds with the church, prayer … things like that. And no one would ever learn the truth.

But this we do know is true:

The Archdiocese’s ultimate goal is get these cases out of the court system so that none of the secret sex abuse and cover-up documents would see the light of day.

The church lawyer heading up this “plan” is Michael Caspino, who, according to USA Today:

… served as general counsel to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County, and who has dealt with hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse, said experience has shown that court litigation does not necessarily solve abuse cases and can make the victims feel more alienated.

What? For those of you who don’t know, I live in Orange County. I work with hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse, and not a single one has heard of attorney Michael Caspino. A lot of other people have in the south part of the county, and it’s not for sex abuse cases. It’s for his other work.

And what’s this about “solving” abuse cases? Well, if he’s talking about the church’s point of view, I suppose he’s right. Exposing abuse and wrongdoers and protecting kids can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

So, after Guam’s victims of child sex abuse have won an amazing civil right, the church is trying to con them into “pausing” their cases, and accepting a little bit of prayer, a few sessions of counseling (on their terms) and a check. At the same time, the Archdiocese’s lawyers are spending tens of thousands of dollars in court to try to defeat the law that gave the victims power in the first place.

It’s a big, fat con.


Archbishop Michael Byrnes. Heading the long con.

Here’s the rub: If Archbishop Byrnes simply opened up and made public the archdiocese’s secret sex abuse files and financial records about the NCW, that would cost nothing. Everyone would stop protesting. Victims would feel vindicated. Forgiveness would begin.

But no, they would never do that … They always make it about the money.




1 thought on “Fifteen Years After Dallas, (Dis)Honorable Mention: Guam and the Hope and Healing Hoax

  1. Great series but how on earth did you leave out Archbishop Myers and the Newark Archdiocese’ repeated protection of known predators? NJ should have been part of this series for sure…but I understand why not…There was just too much to choose from.

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